BARBERTON — It has been quite an up-and-down season for the Tallmadge boys basketball team thus far.
At times, the Blue Devils look like a bona fide threat to beat just about anyone.
Other times, not so much.
On Friday, Tallmadge had a chance to complete a sweep against a quality Suburban League American Conference opponent.
It didn’t happen. The Blue Devils were quite overmatched in every way imaginable, as a matter of fact.
Tallmadge dropped to 7-12 overall and 4-7 in the American Conference after losing a lopsided 81-47 decision to host Barberton at Jack Greynolds Floor.
The Magics (12-7), who surrendered a 21-point lead in a 65-61 loss to the Blue Devils earlier in the season, outscored Tallmadge 51-24 in the second half, including 27-7 in the final eight minutes.
Such disturbing numbers left Blue Devils head coach Bill Johnson just about speechless after the game.
"I’d love to say I have a ton of answers," he said bluntly.
Barberton certainly did.
The Magics controlled the glass throughout the evening and got a majority of the 50-50 balls. All told, Barberton had a 28-14 advantage in rebounding.
The Magics turned many of their defensive rebounds into fast breaks, particularly in the second half.
Barberton got a layup after layup as a reasonable deficit became a mountainous one for the Blue Devils in a heartbeat.
"They just brought it physically and we didn’t answer the call," Johnson said. "They were just more physical than us in every aspect of the game. They wore us down. We let them dictate everything on the floor.
"We didn’t rebound the ball. We took quick shots; we took bad shots. That’s something we have not been doing."
Four players scored in double digits for the Magics.
Anthony Cook Jr. had a huge game with 25 points, including 21 in the second half. Cook finished with 15 points in the third quarter when the Magics took a 54-40 lead. Cook also played the role of distributor as he dished out a number of assists to wide-open teammates for layups.
Jamair Blackmon scored 13 points for Barberton and reserves Tony Fox and Bennett Miller added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Magics.
Kyle Ries and Brandon Heigelmann led Tallmadge with 12 points apiece.
As for Johnson, one may want to forgive him if he’s a bit puzzled by his team.
The Blue Devils have a tendency to struggle mightily. A perfect example was their confounding 51-33 loss to Kent Roosevelt earlier this month.
And then they put it all together with a 61-45 victory over a quality Copley squad a few days later.
On Friday, Tallmadge continued its peaks and valleys. The Blue Devils’ latest performance seemed to plunge drastically as the evening progressed.
For Johnson, Jack Greynolds Floor may have resembled a rather frightful abyss for his struggling Blue Devils. And regardless of what he did, the second-year coach had no chance of rescuing them.
"I’m very disappointed," Johnson said. "Normally, we’ll respond, but I thought we didn’t do that [Friday]."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.